Source: Best Health Magazine, Sept. 2011. Photo by Michael Alberstat. Video by Nick Perry
As Tré Armstrong poses for the camera in a form-fitting yellow dress and oh-so-high black heels, she doesn’t look one smidgeon like the tomboy she claims to be. But once she has talked up her weekly basketball game and shown the photographer how high she can jump, it seems as natural as the stilettos she often sports in her fourth year as a judge on CTV’s So You Think You Can Dance Canada (SYTYCD Canada).
Anyone who’s seen an episode knows that Armstrong appreciates many forms of dance, but it’s hip hop and urban moves that she loves. Not surprising considering her own dance history. In the 2005 documentary Breakin’ In: The Making of a Hip Hop Dancer, she was featured as a rising Canadian star looking for a break. That came when she was picked to dance in rapper Missy Elliott’s concert tour. Since then she’s worked with the likes of Jay’Z, Megan Fox and Jessica Alba; and recently, she’s choreographed Rihanna and Ludacris.
Go behind-the-scenes at Tré’s Best Health photo shoot!
Fierce, nothing-gets-in-her-way determination is key to where Armstrong’who’s ‘about 30” is today: a respected dancer, movie actress, choreographer and instructor who’s committed to helping young dancers be their best. ‘Everything I do includes some form of dance or movement. That’s where I belong,’ she says. ‘Some people grow up looking for what they’re meant to be. I was born into what I was meant to be.’
Armstrong, who lives just outside of Toronto, has created her own not-for-profit organization, The Tré Armstrong Give Back Foundation. Its stated mission: ‘To make dance and creative artistic expression accessible to people across Canada and to inspire people to pursue their artistic hopes, dreams and passions.’ One of its projects is a day of free dance lessons for young people. Started four years ago with 30 kids and three classes, by this summer it had grown to more than 400 kids dancing in six studios at the National Ballet School in Toronto. ‘All of the instructors are professionals from the industry, plus we have SYTYCD Canada alumni.”
In Parkdale, a Toronto neighbourhood with a tough-streets reputation where she lived in her early 20s, Armstrong set up a program called D-Tour. ‘When ‘I lived there, I wondered: Where are all the girls? I didn’t see them at the community centres; I didn’t see them on the streets.’ So a year ago, she started a 12-week dance program’funded by ArtReach Toronto ‘that initially focused on goal-setting and decision-making for girls.
Armstrong offers her community more than dance. She hopes to be a role model to youth of colour. ‘It’s important for me to go where my people of colour are, because these young boys and girls need leaders; they need mentors; they need visionaries they can look up to.’